Introduction

Today we herald the release of the new ATI graphics solution. Though the R420 is still based on DX9's PS2.0, performance numbers look to be on par with what we would expect from a company who has lead the industry in performance for nearly two years. The two new board configurations based on R420 at which we will be looking today are the Radeon X800 Pro, and the Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition. The Radeon X800 Pro is shipping today, but the XT Platinum Edition won't make it out the door until later this month (ATI cites May 21st as the shipping date).

We were skeptical, when the GeForce 6800 Ultra was thrust into the spotlight, that ATI would be able to keep up with their toughest competitor. From the first briefing we had regarding the R420 GPU, we knew it would be an intense fight. Both the NV40 and R420 architectures are very sound and well founded, and the next six months will be a very good time for consumers of computer technology. But before we start handing out the nominations for happiest customer, let's take a look at the new kid on the block.

The Chip
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  • 413xram - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    They announced they where going to in there release anyway. Later on this summer. Why not now? Reply
  • jensend - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    #61- nuts. 512 mb ram will pull loads more power, put out a lot more heat, cost a great deal more (especially now, since ram prices are sky-high), and give negligible if any performance gains. Heck, even 256 mb is still primarily a marketing gimmick. Reply
  • 413xram - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    They (ATI) are using the same technology that their previous cards are using. They pretty much just added more transistors to perform more functions at a higher speed. I am willing to bet my paycheck that they spent no where close to 400 million dollars to run neck and neck with nvidia in performance. I guess "virtually nothing" is an overstatement. My apologies.
    Reply
  • Phiro - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    Where do you get your info that ATI spent "virtually nothing"? Reply
  • 413xram - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    Both cards perform brilliantly. They are truly a huge step in graphics processing. One problem I forsee though,is that Nvidia spent 400 million dollars into development of their new nv40 technology, while ATI spent virtually nothing to have the same performance gains. Economically that is a hard pill for Nvidia to swallow.

    It is true that Nvidia's card has the 3.0 pixel shading, unfortunatly though, they are banking on hardware that is not supported upon release of the card. In dealing with video cards from a consumers standpoint that is a hard sell. I have learned from the past that future possibilties of technology in hardware does nothing for me today. Not to mention the power supply issue that does not help neither.

    Nvidia must find a way to get better performance out of their new card, I can't believe I'am saying that after seeing the specs that it already performs at, or it may be a long, HOT, and expensive summer for them.

    P.S. Nvidia. A little advice. Speed up the release on your 512 mb card. That would definetly sell me. Overclocking your 6800 is something that 90% of us in this forum would do anyway.
    Reply
  • theIrish1 - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link


    heh, whatever.. whatever, and whatever. I love the fanboyisms....

    I admit I am a fan of ATI cards. I bought a 9700pro and a 9500pro(in my secondary gaming rig) when they first came out, and an 8500 "pro" before that...but now I want to upgrade again. I am keeping an open mind. After looking at benchmarks, it is clear the both cards have their wins and losses depending on the test. I don't think there is a clear cut winner. nVidia got there by new innovation/technology. ATI got there by optimizing "older" technology.

    At this point, with pricing being the same.. I think I still have to lean to the ATI cards. Main reasons being heat & power consumption. If the 6800U was $75 or $100 cheaper, I would probably go with that. It will be interesting to see where the 6850 falls benchmark wise, and also in pricing. If the 6850 takes the $500 pricepoint, where will that leave the 6800U? $450? Or with the 6850 be $550?

    Something else about the x800Pro (which by the way, alot of the readers/posters seem to be getting confused as to what they are talking about between the Pro and XT models). Anyway, there are a few online stores out there taking pre-orders still for the x800PRO.... for $500+. I thought the Pro was going to go at $400 and the XT at $500...?!?
    Reply
  • 413xram - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    On the fabrication o the two Gpus- the tech report:

    "Regardless, transistor counts are less important, in reality, than die size, and we can measure that. ATI's chips are manufactured by TSMC on a 0.13-micron, low-k "Black Diamond" process. The use of a low-capacitance dielectric can reduce crosstalk and allow a chip to run at higher speeds with less power consumption. NVIDIA's NV40, meanwhile, is manufactured by IBM on its 0.13-micron fab process, though without the benefit of a low-k dielectric."

    The extra transistors of the 6800U might be taken up with the cinematic encoding/rendering embedded chip. Although ATI claim encoding in their X800p/XT blurb, I havent seen much yet to distinguish it from the 9800p in this field. The Tech report checked power consumption at the wall for their test systems and the 6800s ramp up the power a lot quicker with gpu speed so I'm not too hopeful about the overclock to 520Mhz and 6800u extreme gpu yields. Still, maybe a new stepping or 90nm SOI shrink might help (I noticed both manufacturers shied away from 90nm).

    Anyway brilliant video cards from North America. Congratulations ATI and Nvidia!

    Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    If it was nice sarcasm I can laugh, if it was nasty sarcasm you can back off. I can see it would be simple for me to overlook the map used, however no indication to what Atech used. One could assume or someone could ask for the real answer and if they are really lucky they will get a smart ass remark.

    After checking through 10 different reviews I found similar results to Atech when they had 25 bots, THG had none.

    Next time save us both the hassle and just say THG didnt use bots, and Atech probably did.
    Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - link

    #54 - Think about things for a minute. Gee... I wonder why THG and AT got such different scores on UT2K4.... Might it be something like the selection of map and the demo used? Nah, that would be too simple. /sarcasm

    From THG: "For our tests in UT2004 we used our own timedemo on the map Assault-Torlan (no bots). All quality options are set to maximum."

    No clear indication of what was used for the map or demo on AT, but I'm pretty sure that it was also a home-brewed demo, and likely on a different map and perhaps with a different number of players. Clearly, though, it was not the same demo as THG used... unless THG is in the habit of giving their benchmarking demos out? Didn't think so.

    I see questions like this all the time. Unless two sites use the exact same settings, it's almost impossible to directly compare their scores. There is no conspiracy, though. Both sites pretty much say the same thing: close match, with the edge going to ATI right now, especially in DX9, while NV still reigns supreme in OGL.
    Reply

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